Critical Analysis: “The Pearl,” by John Steinbeck

“The Pearl,” by John Steinbeck is the story of a poor Indian couple who find a pearl of immense value.

Kino and his wife Juana live in a small brush hut with their young baby Coyotito. At the start of “The Pearl” John Steinbeck shows Kino and his family living a peaceful life filled with the sound of the whispering surf, and the beautiful “Song of the Family,” the song of safety and warmth.

In the midst of this pleasant scene Steinbeck introduces the first evil which will touch Kino and his family: a scorpion which threatens the baby Coyotito. It crawls down the rope from which Coyotito’s cradle is suspended. Kino and Juana try to catch it before it reaches their baby but Coyotito reaches up and knocks it off onto himself. Kino snatches up the scorpion and smashes into the earth, but it is too late, for Coyotito wails in anguish. The poison of the scorpion that stung him would make a full grown man very sick. For the baby, though, the poison may be deadly.

Kino and Juana decide to take Coyotito to the local village doctor. Steinbeck first paints a picture of the doctor at ease inside his gated estate, eating sweets and dreaming of his former opulent lifestyle in France. When a servant disturbs the doctor with news of Kino’s plea for help the rich man’s first response is rage. “I am a doctor, not a veterinary,” the doctor says, implying that Kino and his baby are animals because they are not rich like he is. The doctor says that he will not treat Coyotito unless Kino can pay him. When the servant returns to ask Kino if he has any money to pay for treatment Kino presents all of his savings: eight small, warped seed pearls of very little value.

The doctor’s servant soon returns to Kino and gives him back the eight small pearls. “The doctor has gone out. He was called to a serious case,” the servant lies and closes the gate in Kino’s face. Kino stands there for a moment and then strikes the gate with his fist. Standing before the door that has been so cruelly closed on him Kino looks down at his split, bloody knuckles.

It is at this point that John Steinbeck first shows the desire for money at work in Kino and Juana. They treat Coyotito with a poultice made of seaweed, but unsure of how effective it will be they decide to go out to the pearl beds to find a pearl better than the ones they have saved up. Steinbeck shows Juana’s thinking process:

“She had not prayed directly for the recovery of the baby—she had prayed that they might find a pearl with which to hire the doctor to cure the baby.”

It is at this point in “The Pearl” that Kino and Juana begin thinking of riches, in this case a pearl, as the solution to their problems.

Kino dives down into the oyster bed and begins filling his basket with pearls. As chance has it he glimpses a very large oyster hidden beneath an overhang. Before the shell closes, Kino sees the gleam of what may be a pearl inside. Kino immediately returns to the surface with the great oyster.

Although Kino is excited about what he saw he does not rush things. Instead he takes the time to pull up his diving rock and his basket of oysters. At this critical moment in the story Steinbeck introduces a very important idea:

“It is not good to want a thing too much. It sometimes drives the luck away. You must want it just enough, and you must be very tactful with God or the gods.”

In line with this principal Kino opens one of the oysters from the basket first. When he has inspected it and found it to contain nothing he throws the oyster overboard and then picks up the large oyster, pretending to notice it for the first time. Kino cuts open the oyster’s shell and pulls back the flesh. Inside the oyster is a huge pearl, as large as a seagulls egg. Steinbeck describes Kino and Juana’s response on seeing it for the first time:

“Juana caught her breath and moaned a little. And to Kino the secret melody of the maybe pearl broke clear and beautiful, rich and warm and lovely, glowing and gloating and triumphant. In the surface of the pearl he could see dream forms. He picked the pearl from the dying flesh and held it in his palm, and he turned it over and saw that its curve was perfect. Juana came near to stare at it in his hand, and it was the hand he had smashed against the doctor’s gate, and the torn flesh of the knuckles was turned grayish white by the sea water.”

At first Steinbeck shows the pearl as a wonderful thing. It is the key that will allow Kino and Juana to achieve all of their dreams, and it will forever raise them above the embarrassing state of poverty that limited them in the past. Now that Kino has the pearl he can dare to let himself dream of things that were before impossible. Kino’s brother Juan asks “What will you do now that you have become a rich man?” Kino thinks carefully. “We will be married—in the church.” Kino can see Juana and himself standing before all the others in the church. “We will have new clothes,” Kino says. From there is is but a small leap to further extravagance: “A rifle. Perhaps a rifle.” The rifle breaks down all barriers in Kino’s mind. If he can have a rifle then he can have anything he wants, all thanks to the pearl.

“My son will go to school. My son will read and open books, and my son will write and will know writing. And my son will make numbers, and these things will make us free because he will know—he will know and through him we will know. This is what the pearl will do.”

Kino’s grand plans are intrinsically tied to the benefit that the pearl can bring to him. However, even as he dreams of the riches of the pearl, others in his village also desire a share of Kino’s wealth. Steinbeck shows a broad view of how the pearl affects everyone in the village, from the clergy who think to themselves about how money could help them repair the church, to shopkeepers who make sure that their clothes are in good order, to the evil doctor who dreams of returning to France and eating in a fancy restaurant. Even the beggars “giggle with pleasure, for they [know] that there is no almsgiver in the world like a poor man who is suddenly lucky.”

Now that the pearl is in Kino’s hands “all manner of people” become interested in him. One of the first people to visit him is the village priest. With the pearl in his hand Kino finds that he no longer trusts the priest. He looks forward to the time when his son Coyotito will be grown up, when he will have learned to read and write. Then Coyotito can read the holy books and know what things are true and what things are not. The priest encourages Kino to remember God and give thanks for his good fortune.

On the heels of the priest comes the doctor. Now that Kino has money the doctor is very willing to treat baby Coyotito. By now the danger from the scorpion poison has already passed, but the doctor takes advantage of Kino and Juana’s ignorance to tell them that the baby is in mortal danger. The doctor gives Coyotito a “medicine,” really poison, and tells them that the “medicine” will help hold off the ill effects of the scorpion. However, he warns them that the “scorpion poison” may strike again. Sure enough, within an hour Coyotito becomes very sick, but it is not from the scorpion, but rather the “medicine” that the doctor gave to him. Kino and Juana are suspicious of the doctor’s actions but they can not tell for sure that he is not telling the truth.

That night Kino starts to become afraid that someone will steal the pearl from him. He digs it up from the place where he had hidden it and buries it under his sleeping mat. Juana watches him and asks “Who do you fear?” Kino answers “Everyone.”

It is at this point that the pearl first becomes a thing of evil. During the night a thief enters the hut to try to steal the pearl. In the dark Kino stabs wildly and injures the thief. The thief escapes after dealing Kino a massive blow to the head. As Juana dresses his wound she for the first time encourages Kino to get rid of the pearl. “This thing is evil. This pearl is like a sin! It will destroy us.”

Kino can not part with pearl though. For him it is the family’s only chance. The next morning Kino and his wife dress in their best clothing and go to the pearl buyers to sell the great pearl. Most of the villagers turn out for the event. They want to see the “Pearl of the World” sold, and they want to see how much Kino gets for it. Little do Kino and the other villagers realize, but all the pearl buyers in the village have been cheating the pearl divers for years. They agree in advance to buy pearls for much below their true value. When Kino shows his pearl to the appraiser the man tells him that is like fools gold, nothing but a curiosity. He offers Kino a thousand pesos.

In anger Kino refuses the offer, stating that the pearl is worth fifty thousand pesos. He announces that he will take the pearl to the capital, where he can get a fair price for it. In defying the pearl dealers in this way Kino threatens the entire structure of life in his village. The pearl makes him think great thoughts and makes him wish to break free from the oppression of the rich people who have abused the Indians for so many years.

Again Kino is attacked in the night by a thief who wishes to steal the pearl. Kino manages to repel the attacker but he receives a scalp wound that leaves him only half conscious. Again Juana begs Kino to throw away the pearl before it destroys them. Again Kino refuses.

In the morning Juana secretly takes the pearl out of hiding and goes down to the beach to throw it back into the sea from which it came. Kino follows Juana and stops her before she can throw the pearl away. In a mad rage Kino strikes Juana across the face and kicks her in the side when she falls to the ground.

His rage replaced with disgust Kino walks away, but before he is even out of sight a group of men ambush him to steal the pearl. Kino kills one of them with his knife, but the pearl is knocked out of his hands onto the sand. The men do not see it and they think that Kino does not have the pearl with him. They strike him down and leave him for dead.

Juana comes to Kino’s rescue. She picks up the pearl and tends to Kino. When his senses return Kino’s first thought is of the pearl. “They have taken the pearl. I have lost it. Now it is over.” The pearl has become Kino’s master, his entire purpose in life. Juana gives him the pearl. “Here is your pearl. Can you understand. You have killed a man. We must go away.”

Kino and Juana have no option now but to flee. When Kino inspects his boat though he finds that a huge hole has been knocked in the bottom. The boat was a family relic passed down through by his grandfather, then his father. To Kino the breaking of the boat is an evil thing that fills him with rage.

Just as soon as Kino leaves the beach he finds that someone has set fire to his brush hut. The hut burns to the ground, destroying almost everything Kino and Juana own. They have no choice now but to set off toward the city to sell the pearl. Before Kino goes his brother implores him to get rid of the evil pearl. Kino responds “This pearl has become my soul. If I give it up I shall lose my soul.”

Kino and Juana escape into the wilderness with a few supplies and their infant son. They hide in the bush, and for the first time Kino has time to reflect on what has happened to him because of the pearl.

“When we sell it at last, I will have a rifle,” he said, and he looked into the shining surface for his rifle, but he saw only a huddled dark body on the ground with shining blood dripping from its throat. And he said quickly, “We will be married in a great church.” And in the pearl he saw Juana with her beaten face crawling home through the night. “Our son must learn to read,” he said frantically. And there in the pearl Coyotito’s face, thick and feverish from the medicine.

Kino finally begins to see the evil of the pearl he has found, but he still can not give up the dreams that he has attached to it. Kino and Juana’s situation becomes desperate when they discover that trackers are following them through the wilderness to steal the pearl from them. Kino and Juana flee in fear, but they know that they can not run forever. At nighttime Kino decides to make a stand against the trackers. He has Juana and Coyotito hide inside a cave. Kino himself stays to watch for the coming of the trackers.

The trackers make camp near a small pool of water below Juana and Coyotito’s cave. Kino has just one way to stop them and save himself, his wife, and his son. He determines to steal the rifle and kill the men in their sleep.

Late at night, Kino descends on the trackers’ camp naked, for fear that his light clothing will reveal him. Just as Kino is about to attack the trackers his son Coyotito begins crying. The men instantly become alert. “Coyote maybe,” one of them says. “If it’s a coyote, this will stop it.” One of them raises his rifle and fires into the darkness.

Kino jumps out of hiding and kills the man instantly with his knife. He deliberately murders the other two men, shooting one of them down with the rifle, but it is too late. From the cave he hears the keening cry of his wife. Even through the darkness the tracker’s deadly shot hit Coyotito and killed him.

Kino and Juana return to the village with the bloody bundle that was once their son. They march through the village as everyone watches from behind gates and through windows. They walk past their burned hut and broken canoe to the sea edge.

Kino’s hand shakes as he pulls out the pearl. Now he sees it as a “malignant growth,” a thing of unbelievable evil that has destroyed his family and life. Kino holds the pearl out to Juana to throw away but Juana shakes her head. “No, you.” Kino pulls back his arm and flings the pearl far out over the waves.

Against Juana’s better judgment Kino’s desires have wrecked their family, but Juana does not seem to hold Kino responsible. She recognizes that what Kino did was what any man would have had to do. As Steinbeck puts it Juana sees Kino as “half insane, half god,” willing to “drive his strength against a mountain, and plunge his strength against the sea.” By making Kino throw the pearl away himself she gives him a chance to recover some of his manhood and his ruined honor. But Kino and Juana can never be happy with their life again. Before the pearl they were satisfied with their son and their simply living. Now that the pearl has given Kino and Juana a taste for riches, and provoked them to dream of things greater they will never be able to look at their lives without thinking of how things could have been.

At first glance Steinbeck’s “The Pearl” is a potent criticism of materialism and the American dream to become rich and successful. Steinbeck shows the evils that result from putting riches first in life. However, Steinbeck also weaves much deeper themes into “The Pearl.” One major aspect of “The Pearl” is the continual contrast between Kino and Juana. Juana possesses more common sense and foresight to see right from the start that the pearl is something that will hurt the family more than help. Kino, though, becomes obsessed with protecting the pearl for the benefit of the family. He dreams of a grand future for Coyotito, not recognizing that the pearl is more of a danger for his family than a help. His fanaticism becomes fully developed when he abuses his wife for trying to get rid of the pearl. In this way Steinbeck explores the difference between male and female thinking and the psychological differences between Kino and Juana.

“The Pearl” is in part a spiritual journey. Each of the story elements have a flavor of either “good” or “evil.” The doctor and pearl buyers are evil. In contrast, Coyotito is a “savior” in that Kino wants him to get an education so that he can free the family and others from the oppressive rule of the rich. Throughout “The Pearl” Steinbeck also shows Juana praying, both to God and the gods, using both the Our Father, and the traditional magics. In a way “The Pearl” is a reflection of the Biblical parable found at Matthew 13:45,46. In this Bible passage a merchant finds a pearl of great value, and sells everything he has to own it. In this case, though, the pearl is a metaphor for God’s Kingdom, whereas in Steinbeck’s story the pearl is a thing of evil, a metaphor for greed and wealth in general.

Interestingly Steinbeck wrote “The Pearl” in response to a suggestion from friends in Mexico who encouraged him to write a screenplay for a film to be produced and filmed in Mexico. Throughout “The Pearl” readers can note ways in which Steinbeck specifically aimed the text toward cinematic effects. One of these is the point of view, which tends to be either close-up, or at medium or distant range. The scenes described are well suited for filming, both because of their typically sparse use of characters, and their powerful emotional and action content. In addition, Steinbeck uses music keys that would be expected in a movie, but are slightly hard to imagine in a written story. As Kino fears for the pearl Steinbeck mentions “The Song of Evil,” low and haunting. In contrast the warm “Song of the Family” percolates through Kino and Juana’s life. At first when Kino looks at the pearl he hears the “Song of the Pearl” as something more like “The Song of the Family” in that the pearl will help him to improve the family’s life. But later Kino begins to tie “The Song of Evil” with “The Song of the Pearl.” These songs are specifically mentioned to aid in the production of the screenplay for “The Pearl.” The Mexican film of “The Pearl” was released in the United States in 1947 and 1948, and at that point it became the first Mexican made film commercially distributed in the States.

“The Pearl” by John Steinbeck is a many-layered story that teaches a deep lesson about the pursuit of wealth while at the same time exploring the differences between the sexes and the real meaning of family life. Every reader should experience this classic piece of fiction.

Your Rating:
Inkweaver Review 2009-03-12T10:10:00-05:00

121 replies so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

i love this book it is really cool
and i love how Steinbeck uses the pearl as a parable

NathanKP said...

The pearl is a very important parable. It is interesting to see how it differs from the Biblical "pearl of great price" though.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

I liked the book alot it taught me a very important lesson but i wish coyotito could have lived

Anonymous said...

I read this book for an english class...its interesting

Anonymous said...

i love every part of this book exspet when kino hit his wife and when end when the baby ot killed.

Anonymous said...

i hated the book and thought it was very boring

Anonymous said...

I hated this book it was very plain... mans son is injured... man is poor... man finds a pearl... pearl will give him wealth... he fights on people that want the pearl... his son dies anyways.

Anonymous said...

its a great book, people should read it, its great. a big shout out to my homes boys in laredo ts ddoing it big u know what im saiiyiiing peace:) laterz

Anonymous said...

i read it when i was in seven grade, im a senior now and its a great book. if you aint gonna say anything positive stop commenting get a live and find something better to do you ignorant people who just critisis others people work you should admired a great work like the pearl. peace dou.......soy el pipe

Anonymous said...

this book is terrible all steinbeck does is describe what the scene, im not gonna lie it took him atleast 5 pages to get through one scene

Anonymous said...

I thought this book was written cleverly and was facinating. I had to read it for english.....and animal farm :/..Everyone should read it!

Anonymous said...

i thought it was a beatiful story but sad at the end.

Anonymous said...

The pearl was ok. To be honest it was a bit boring! There is too much description and he uses metaphors for everything.
But the plot of the book was good and how greed kills Kino's family.
The baby gets shot!

Anonymous said...

Dis book was so boring i thought it would never end!

Anonymous said...

i like this book ever ..

Anonymous said...

this book really interests me. Steinbeck made use of the pearl as a symbolism of greed---where it brought out the evil within of every people lured by the dazzling price of the pearl...

Anonymous said...

great book....very symbolic

Anonymous said...

ccoooll

Anonymous said...

great book i loved every chapter. I thought it was very symbolic and shows how greed, and wealth can lead to corruption, which eventually puts Kino and his family in danger

Anonymous said...

i also had to read it in class i agree with both sied of the comments it is pretty sad n if u dont like it u shuld write a book n try to make it better. i think i would of liked it more if i wasnt forced to read it cass.

Anonymous said...

personally i do not like mexican films...

Anonymous said...

personally i do not like mexicans

Anonymous said...

personally i think mexicans have lower IQs

Anonymous said...

^ agreed.

Anonymous said...

I think people who discriminate against mexicans are both ignorant and uneducated.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion this book was one of the worst I have ever read; however, it does indeed reveal several cases of symbolism regarding greed, family, wealth, good vs. evil, power, and free will vs. fate. If you enjoy a good book with a far deeper meaning than what lies on the surface, this is the book for you! If not, well... Don't read it!!!!!! (unless it is for school)

Anonymous said...

and mexicans are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My feelings about this book is kind of mixed. At some points, it gripped me but at others I didn't understand why John S. chose it to be this way. before I finished the book, I thought that it was going to end up by Kino selling the pearl and returns home and would be seen as a strong willed and generous person. It seemed to be the perfect way to state that Kino had struggled a lot to get what he wanted for his family and when one stands up against the cruel world and defend his dreams, he will reach it. But instead I was shocked when John S. decided to de-home the family and by that(they lost their home because of the community and the greed of other people?!) and on top of that, kino killed 3 men on the mountain. I mean it's quite clear that John wanted to convey the human nature which can be evil and good in Kino but I think he made that clear earlier! and then his sons DIES which the wrost possible ending! and he throws the dream into the ocean again! it's like one has to give up dreams when it's not suitable for all subjects in the community. I think the ending was very pasmistic.

Anonymous said...

Why this page hasn't erased awful comments of rasist and ignorant people.You showld first critic yourself and see who you like more. People who work hard for a goog live, or people like you who losses his time thinking and hating hard worker people.

Anonymous said...

True, I love maxican people they work for it don't yust ask for it.

Anonymous said...

honestly, i like this book, it really attracts me; however, i still have a question that will there be anything bad happen if Jauna could throw the pearl in the first place and is it a smart choice of her to throw the pearl away?

Anonymous said...

i just finished reading this book for school, and although it is somewhat slow paced, it sends very important msgs

Anonymous said...

Most compelling of all is the embarrassingly poor writing and grammar evinced in these comments. As a teacher, I am increasingly saddened every time time I encounter evidence of the ongoing decline in our students' literacy...The thought of this caliber of writing passing (or being passed!) for even an approximation of critical and analytical thinking vanishes as quickly as the apparent effort that produced it...

Anonymous said...

this book sucks ! i have to read it at school and i hate it sorryyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jp said...

I am not a teacher. I am a stay at home mother. I have had some university classes. Surely not over educated. As I read through these comments I find myself feeling somewhat uncomfortable and most embarrassed. I imagine one from another country, Japan for example, reading through these as well. Their overwhelming impression would be that we are a country of idiots. What a sad state of affairs our country is in. How did this happen?

Anonymous said...

This book is an outstanding piece of work by Steinbeck. I did it in grade 9 and it was fun and still is... it teaches you about family and the struggles of indignity.... rate 5/5 for this book...

Anonymous said...

I don't like this book. It has it's moments, sure, but it is mostly a slow build to a very depressing and disappointing ending.

Anonymous said...

It is a parable after all

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this book. Despite the long descriptions, the book had a good lesson that we must all learn - that there is evil in greed in fortune. It's not that long of a book to read, and honestly, you won't get that bored from reading it.

Anonymous said...

If your really going to talk mess about such a great book the least you can do is show your name. And if the book was so stupid and boring, then why did you continue to read the whole book?

Anonymous said...

oh... this story is good.... but why kino was been a killer.. oh my...

Anonymous said...

This is NOT a critical analysis.

Anonymous said...

hi guys

Anonymous said...

Thats hot

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent book.I Like the beauty of it's simplicity.The background descriptions are so vivid and clear. The reader feels like they are actually physically there in the scenes described by john Steinbeck.
More importantly, there is an important moral message here. Wealth should never become an idol. There was a point where it is stated that the pearl had become Kino's soul; his entire life. The author is showing the dangers of this obsession with materialism. After all, what profiteth a man to gain the world and lose his soul? It profiteth him nothing. Nothing is wrong with wealth but love and family should never be sacrificed in order to gain it.

Seoulseeker said...

This analysis is very superficial and inaccurate. It is also more of a narrative than a serious analysis.

Some of the multiple misinterpretations and errors include:

1. Kino and Juana never "begin thinking of riches" as a way to solve all their problems. They think only of finding a pearl as their only means of getting money to pay the doctor, which they believe is the only way to cure their son of a scorpion sting. There is no greed for riches.

2. The native view that it is unlucky to want something too much is NOT an important idea. It is an example of native superstition. Native views about the supernatural are all superstitious and show their failure to understand real cause and effect.

3. The writer correctly describes what Kino hopes to buy with the pearl but then absurdly refers to his "dreams of...riches." All his plans are very modest, and his greatest hope has nothing to do with material wealth: he hopes to buy a town education for his son, which alone can enable Coyotito and other natives to escape being exploited and unjustly treated by townspeople. In short, what Kino wants most is social justice for his son and his people.

4. The writer states falsely that Steinbeck shows how the pearl "affects everyone in the village" by making them greedy. The writer confuses the village with the town of La Paz. Only townspeople become greedy, not the native villagers. This is because the story shows that greed mainly results from social values, NOT human nature.

5. When a thief injures Kino after looking for the pearl in his hut, the pearl does NOT become "a thing of evil." The pearl itself cannot have any moral quality. Juana views the pearl as evil in itself because she is superstitious. She does not understand that the real cause of evil is the townspeople and their morally corrupting society. Kino is right that selling the pearl is the only chance for Coyotito and the natives to escape from the "trap" of social injustice through knowledge.

6. This is partly true: "The pearl makes him think great thoughts and makes him wish to break free from the oppression of the rich people who have abused the Indians for so many years." However, of course it is NOT just the pearl that gives rise to these hopes. The oppressed condition of the natives is the main factor! The doctor's unjust and scornful treatment of Kino's family is an example of this oppression; and Kino's injury to his hand from striking the doctor's gate in outrage symbolizes both his anger at injustice and his impotence. Also, it is not "rich people" who oppress the natives but the Hispanic descendants of the Spanish who conquered and colonized Mexico hundreds of years earlier. The story deals with the conflict between European and native cultures and the injustice of colonialism.

Seoulseeker said...

7. Another inaccuracy: After refusing to sell the pearl for an absurdly low price, Kino is not attacked by a group of men but by ONE man. Also, the man does not leave Kino for dead. Rather, Kino kills the attacker in self-defense. When Kino says mistakenly, "They have taken the pearl," he means vaguely the ones who are trying to take it--e.g., the pearl buyers. Similarly, when later finds Juana looking at their burning hut and asks who did it, she answers, "I don't know...The dark ones"--that is, evildoers.

8. The writer says they have to leave their village after their hut is burned with all their possessions. Actually, Juana points out that Kino's killing a man forces them to leave because Kino cannot get a fair trial in the town and plead self-defense.

9. It is a very great error to say, "Against Juana's better judgment Kino's desires have wrecked their family," implying that Kino is to blame for what happens. First, Juana does NOT have good judgment! Her thinking is inconsistent because it is influenced by her superstitions and feelings of the moment. When she wants the doctor's help, she prays fervently for a pearl. When Kino hopes to buy Coyotito's education, Juana is excited and hopeful also. When the doctor comes with "medicine," Juana adores him while Kino correctly suspects that the doctor poisoned the baby. Then when a thief comes, Juana fears that the pearl itself is evil.

In fact, throwing away the pearl probably would not have saved them because, as long as townspeople knew of it, thieves would come to kill them and steal it. This is inevitable especially after the buyers see the pearl for themselves and know the rumors are true.

Seoulseeker said...

10. It is nonsense that Juana lets Kino throw the pearl away to "recover some of his manhood and his ruined honor." He has done nothing dishonorable, since everything he did was for the good of his family and his people.

11. It is also nonsense that "Kino and Juana can never be happy with their life again...Now that the pearl has given Kino and Juana a taste for riches, and provoked them to dream of things greater." They can never be happy again because they lost their son--what they valued above all else in life. They do NOT care about "riches" or "dream of things greater." This is completely false. They NEVER DID dream of material wealth or even a higher standard of living. What they hoped for above all was SOCIAL JUSTICE for their son and their people: "[Coyotito's education] will make us free because he will know--he will know and through him we will know." This has NOTHING to do with getting "a taste for riches"!!!

12. Yes, the story is "a potent criticism of materialism and the American dream to become rich and successful," but NOT just "at first glance." This is the main message. It is mainly a critique of CAPITALISM as a morally corrupting social system that encourages greed. The capitalist society of the town is contrasted with the communal society of the natives, where people share their few possessions, show no sign of greed, and cannot even imagine stealing another person's property.

Seoulseeker said...

13. Yes, the story shows "the evils that result from putting riches first in life," but NOT because this is what Kino does! It is only the townspeople with their twisted values who value private wealth above all and will cheat or even commit murder to profit themselves. The description of the buyers sums up the capitalist justification of greed very well: "there was excitement among the pearl buyers, for there was excitement in the hunt, and if it be a man's function to break down a price, then he must take joy and satisfaction in breaking it as far down as possible." Capitalism teaches people to take pride in being greedy and predatory, and to entirely disregard justice in the pursuit of profit.

14. Contrasts between Kino and Juan do NOT show "deeper themes." The writer completely misunderstands both characters. Kino is the more rational one throughout the story, whereas Juana is always emotional and superstitious. It is not foresighted to have superstitious fears! Kino's hopes are entirely reasonable and just; his only error is that he doesn't understand the true nature of the town society that he hopes his son can get an education from that will enable natives to gain justice. That society is fundamentally corrupt, but Kino cannot know this.


15. He is NOT fanatical, and he does not "abuse" his wife; consequently, she understands his actions and does not blame him. He hits her and knocks her down because superstitious fear makes her try to throw away the best hope their family and their people seem to have of gaining justice. Right afterwards, Kino feels sickened by what he did, and afterwards he sees a vision of the incident in the pearl among other "evil" effects of trying to buy justice with it. But the evil effects all result from Kino's illusions that the town society is superior to that of the natives and can give his people a better life. His actions do show the beginnings of the morally corrupting effect that valuing money has. But these illusions are NOT just Kino's. Juana and other natives think the same way, since they are all intimidated by the superior power and wealth of the Hispanics who have dominated them for hundreds of years. Thus Juana doubts the effectiveness of traditional medicine because of believing mistakenly (through the Hispanics' influence) that cost reflects value: "But the remedy lacked [the doctor's] authority because it was simple and didn't cost anything."

Seoulseeker said...

16. NO, the story is NOT "in part a spiritual journey." There is no simplistic "good" and "evil," and it is utterly RIDICULOUS to think of Coyotito as representing a "savior." It is suggested that all religious thinking in the story is naively superstitious or hypocritically self-serving. Natives have no understanding of actual cause and effect. For exaple, when Coyotito becomes sick again, they say superstitiously, "Luck brings bitter friends," assuming that there is a divine order that balances fortune with misfortune; they are oblivious to the fact that the doctor poisoned the baby so he could then fake curing the scorpion's poison--putting Kino in his debt and, at the same time, trying to find out where the pearl is hidden. The doctor's wife and the past King of Spain both believed they could buy admission to heaven by giving money to the church, and the town beggars observe everyone who goes to the local church for "consolation," indicating the self-serving purpose of their faith (i.e., to comfort people they will be "saved" despite faults such as greed and murder).

Rather than their prayers having any effect, what actually happens seems bitterly ironic relative to what is prayed for. For example, Juana's prayer that they will find a pearl to pay for the doctor seem to be "granted" in a way that turns out to be a cruel joke, bringing death and suffering to the family rather than security and happiness. The "luck" that seems "a pat on the back by God or the gods" is entirely relative to point of view and results largely from a person's power. Thus, the "luck" that enables a person to find a pearl brings the death of an oyster. Kino's fortune is very like that of an oyster because both act to protect themselves but unwittingly attract enemies. The "luck" that brings the pearl to Kino (and kills the oyster) is the result of Kino's superior strength. In the same way, it can be said that "luck" gives townspeople an advantage over natives in cheating them and stealing their pearls.

Twice in the story, God is described as being detached and indifferent: when Kino "watches with the detachment of God" as an ant is trapped by an ant lion, and at the end when Juana is viewed as natives as being "as remote and as removed as Heaven."

Seoulseeker said...

THROWING AWAY THE PEARL:
Kino and Juana walk back side by side rather than with Kino and front because they are equal in responsibility for their tragedy and they are of one mind now. But of course it is NOT the pearl itself that they now understand is evil. The Song of the Family in Kino's mind is like a "battle cry" because he and Juana finally understand that the real threat to them is the town society and its acquisitive values centered on the accumulation of private wealth. The morally corrupting effect of capitalism is represented by Kino's vision of the evils that came from trying to "buy" justice with money in the manner of townspeople who value everything according to its cost and believe money is essential for happiness. Kino and Juana both understand in the end that these beliefs are as illusory as the air of the Gulf because of the corrupting nature of a capitalist society. Thus, the pearl seems "a malignant growth," and its music is finally "distorted and insane." Their throwing away the pearl is a rejection of the alien cultural values which destroyed their family. Far from having acquired "a taste for riches," at the end they achieve too late a "magical protection" which consists entirely in renouncing modern society.

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it is a bad book

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i had to read it for my skool xd i hate it iam gonna buy oil and then burn it xd trolface

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Could You write about cast analysis of the issue in the text The pearl? I mean the whole story. Thanks in advance